On January 29th 2018 Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order directing the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the Board of Public Utilities to immediately begin negotiations with current RGGI states to determine how to best reenter the program. New Jersey was a founding member of RGGI, however opted to leave the program in September 2012.

The administrative process to reenter RGGI auction is expected to take place in the first two quarters of 2019, with New Jersey participating at RGGI Auctions in the third quarter of 2019. The timeline is set out by the NJDEP, which has released a presentation on its plans ahead of a public hearing regarding the intent to rejoin the program.  By rejoining RGGI and thereby committing to emissions reductions in the power sector, Governor Phil Murphy has taken a step towards achieving emissions reductions targets laid out in the Global Warming Response Act of 2007.

Rejoining RGGI will require negotiations between New Jersey and the current RGGI Member States to adjust the programs emissions cap. Currently, 38 of New Jersey’s fossil fuel power plants have electric generating units at or above 25 MW capacity and would therefore be covered by the RGGI program and need to be factored into the new RGGI cap. In 2018 the RGGI Cap is set at 82.2 million short tons with an annual reduction factor of 2.5%.

Focused on the power sector, RGGI covers approximately 20% of all the participating states’ GHG emissions (see ICAP Status Report 2018). Whereas power sector emissions have decreased in all RGGI member states over the past years, New Jersey’s power sector emissions have gone up since leaving the program in 2012. Besides New Jersey, Virginia officials have recently expressed interest to establish a cap-and-trade system to be linked with RGGI.